I was working as a reporter in Beccles,
Suffolk, in the middle 1970s. At that time we employed a
number of freelance photographers, one of whom was Ric
Turton. I got to know Ric fairly well and he spent some
time telling me about life on the Pirate Radio Station
Radio Caroline and also his involvement in the pop music
world of the 1960s and 1970s.
I had always been fascinated by the
Pirates as I had listened to Radio Caroline extensively
as I grew up. To me this was the golden age of pop/rock
radio. The age when we were all younger and less wise.
The radio was a great source of entertainment and these
Pirates were doing something never before achieved. They
were bringing new pop music to us and paving the way for
stations such as Radio One. At the same time their DJs
were becoming stars and cult figures in their own right.
I seem to remember their legality
becoming an election issue and I believe it was Margaret
Thatcher who made an election pledge to legalise them
only to go back on her word after being elected. I
believe that was probably the first time that I realised
that politicians would openly lie in order to get
elected and then renege on promises when elected.
Today the pirates seem old hat, but they
were innovative, they were ground-breaking and they
broke down the music rules and laws. Without them pop
music would have been much poorer.
I particularly enjoyed listening to
Radio Caroline and their competition Caroline Cash
Casino. I often used to enter this contest which
involved guessing a person or object from cryptic clues.
The longer the competition went on the more the prize
money grew. I think I only ever got the answer correct
once but wasn't quick enough getting my entry in. I
remember the answer was Tommy Cooper's Fez!
For me those were great days and
undoubtedly played a major part in fuelling not only my
love of music but my willingness to listen to all types
and styles. Radio Caroline was Britain's first offshore
radio station and began broadcasting at Easter 1964 from
a ship anchored just outside the UK territorial waters.
I wrote an article for the Beccles and
Bungay Journal newspaper about Ric and his life, but
took this a bit further by recording tapes of
conversations I had with him. Sadly those tapes are long
lost, but happily I did transcribe what he said and
include this lengthy transcription below.
If you are interested in finding out
more about the pirates and the DJs there is a very good
web site which can be accessed by clicking
The site gives the following biography
for Ric Turton:
Born Richard John Turton on 26th January 1943 in Thorpe,
Norfolk, Ric was working as a ten-pin bowling instructor
in Oldham in the early sixties when he met Tony
Prince. Tony was then a club disc-jockey and,
through him, Ric began playing records at the Oldham
Astoria. He also took care of the lighting at the
Manchester Plaza. It was there that he met a group
called Herman and the Hermits. Ric became their road
manager. They later found fame with the shorter name of
Herman's Hermits. Ric joined Radio Caroline in late 1964
and, after a short stint on the south ship, switched to
the north. The exact dates are long forgotten but his
sister Sue thinks he stayed with Caroline for about a
year but left to work on American radio - a job he found
with the help of Peter Noone (“Herman”). He was one
of the first, possibly the very first, English
disc-jockey to work in America, presenting on WAIR in
Winston-Salem, North Carolina. After about three years
on US radio and television, Ric returned to the UK. He
was involved in band management among other things. One
of his ventures involved teaching skate-boarding but he
was too early. The craze did not catch on for a few more
years and this was not as big a success as he had hoped.
In the late seventies he returned to the States and was
earning a living teaching soccer when tragically he died
in a car accident in 1985. He was just 42.
I was very sad to learn of Ric's
premature death from the biography, but glad that when
clearing out some old papers I came across the
transcript which I re-print in full below.
was born in Thorpe, Norwich, in 1943.
the age of three months I left Norwich. My father was a
building contractor and would stay in one place for
between two and five years. I spent my infant life at
two different places - Carlisle and then Manchester. My
mother came from Norwich and my father from Yorkshire.
moved to Barrow-in-Furness where we had the beauties of
the beach in summer and I could enjoy the Lake District
in the autumn and winter. I was there until the age of
11 when my father's contract to build a power station
finished and we went to Manchester. After leaving school
I followed my father into the building industry. I took
building as a subject at school and was quite happy with
that. I always had a leaning, however, towards
entertainment, more from the production side than out
front in the spotlight.
did lighting for school plays. For one production of
McBeth the lead part was taken by John Thaw. The school
was in awe of his performance. I produced youth club
reviews etc and during that time I was working in the
drawing office of the building company.
company my father was working for built the first 10 pin
bowling centre outside London. It was near Manchester
and I spent considerable time there and got hooked on
the sport. They were short of instructors and I was
taken on in that capacity during the evenings. I had
been coached by the leading instructor. I was paid
little but got the chance to do lots of bowling.
saw advertisements for a 10 pin bowling controller in
Oldham over the top of a ballroom. The ballroom would
have pop record sessions which the resident band
disliked intensely. This was in the early 1960s. Little
Eva and the Shirelles was the kind of music being
used to spend a lot of my time at the back watching the
DJ in action. He was called Tommy Prince and later
changed his name to Tony Prince and subsequently joined
Radio Luxemburg. I watched him and became aware of
certain things that could be done to improve the disco.
He went on holiday for a few weeks and I was the natural
replacement. Taking the disco job meant I got sacked
from the bowling job. I later realised that the two
departments came under different managers and they
disliked each other. All I had done was to take my two
weeks' holiday from the bowling side to work at the
day I got the bus and went into Manchester to the Plaza
Ballroom which was owned by Mecca. I saw their manager
who was really into pop music. I said "do you want
a really good DJ" and he replied he was always
looking for good DJs. My reply was "Well I am here
then." That was the only time I have ever
approached a job with a cheeky attitude.
had an audition and everything went well and he took me
on. Within a month I had become a full time DJ in charge
of about six others. One of those was Dave Lee Travis.
He insisted on playing his own variety of obscure
records because he liked them. When this happened
everyone would leave the floor. I told him I didn't
think it was good enough. On Saturday nights in those
days I used to get star billing. I can remember on one
occasion getting an audience of 2,000. A few days later
the Hollies played and had only 1,800 there. I had to
get DLT replaced because of his insistence. Some time
later I met him in the club. At the time he seemed very
down and I put him in touch with Radio Caroline as I
felt I owed him a favour. He got a job and about 18
months ago I saw him in London and he offered to take me
out to dinner. I really appreciated that.
the Plaza, Tuesday night was audition night. One
Saturday we had a group booked but they dropped out and
couldn't come. We couldn't get a replacement. We had
this group called Herman and the Hermits, who were due
to audition the following Tuesday. They filled in and
got a tremendous reception from the people who had come
to see the other group. It was a real storm. I was very
impressed and at the end spoke to Peter Noone. He gave
me telephone numbers to contact him on. I told him the
group were going to make it big and asked to become
their road manager. Two months later I started in that
bought a van and we toured Bolton, Southport, Wigan, the
Cavern Club at Liverpool and other northern dates. We
played with people like the Merseybeats, the Four
Pennies, Del Shannon, Lulu and the Lovers. At one
concert Lulu's PA system got lost and she used Peter
Noone's. Peter had a strong voice but Lulu a very weak
one and the show was a disaster. It was at Harrogate. I
think that town is my least favourite place in the whole
world. Full of old people.
big break came with an audition at the Moonraker Club in
Bolton. Mickey Most was coming up and he thought they
were terrible. I thought Mickey Most's music was
terrible so that made it quits. Nevertheless he asked us
to go to London for an audition. Mickey told Peter that
he had to get rid of the group. He played us some
remarkable tapes of sessions with the Animals, where all
the tracks were laid down in one take and all became
following weekend in Bolton we went in for a band
contest and came second. The Cymerons were first. Peter
and I by this time were talking about management. I
taught Peter to question his manager and disagree with
him if necessary to get the best deal.
met Peter when he was 13. He was very intelligent. He
soon became a very cunning person with a cut throat
business mind. He was ambitious and he could at times
steamroller people. He fired the group when they came
second and decided to go it on his own, but with two
members of the original group.
went back to his house and the four members of his group
came round to see him individually. He made it known
that the group would no longer be known as Herman and
the Hermits but Herman's Hermits with him as employer.
At that time I didn't get on with the lead guitarist. He
was a very snobby university graduate and he thought
there was an alliance between me and Peter. He didn't
like this and so he fired me. It appeared that Peter
employed me and this lead guitarist sacked me.
taught Peter to drive. At the time he was 16. One day we
went into Manchester. He had a habit of staring into the
mirror for long periods without looking at the road
ahead. He didn't see this trailer and we went straight
into it. That was the end of my van. I got a replacement
but I'm sure the lead guitarist used it as an excuse to
get rid of me.
went back to the Plaza at Manchester. I was there one
day when a man approached me and said he was starting a
Manchester Cavern Club. He wanted me to manage it for
him. I set the club up and it was a big success and my
name still seemed big enough to attract people. I had
changed my name to Jonns when I went from the bowling
alley into the ballroom. It seemed a good idea.
this time Radio Caroline had just started up. It took me
three months to pluck up the courage to contact them. I
phoned up and used the same spiel as I had done before.
"I said next to Jimmy Saville I am the best DJ in
the North of England. I've heard him and he's rubbish,
you need me."
started it all. I then found out the programme
controller wouldn't employ anybody who didn't like
Georgie Fame. I didn't really know anything about
Georgie Fame, but his secretary had tipped me off and
given me the name of a number of his records. Well he
hired me. He gave me an audition and I was terrible, but
the bloke seemed completely freaked out with something
or the other.
wanted me to report to Harwich almost immediately. So I
returned to Manchester to get all my things together. Up
to then I had never been to sea in my life. I went to
Harwich at 7.30 a.m in the morning. The other DJs were
already there. They included Bill Kerr and Simon Dee. I
have nothing but the deepest respect for Simon Dee. He
is one of the cleverest DJs I have ever met. It is a
shame he ever got involved in television. If he had
stuck to radio he would have been so big.
got on a converted trawler and set off for the Caroline
South ship. It was a two hour trip. We got three miles
out and I was violently sick. Suddenly there was a
terrible commotion in the wheelhouse. They were saying
there was a gunboat next to Caroline. It was an American
minesweeper and there was a 250 ft mast sticking up from
it. We thought another radio station had been set up.
Caroline was only 250 tons and by this time water was
shooting over the sides.
on board this great big bloke with a beard came out and
said "you must be the new bloke". I was hurled
into the studio and taken through a door and suddenly
realised I was on air. It was a really tiny cubicle. It
had a small table with a small microphone and a glass
window. There was a guy on the other side pointing at me
and that's when I realised I was on air. I took up the
headphones and mumbled something about how nice
everything was and what a nice day it was. I was really
petrified as I was speaking to 16,000 people.
the programme I went downstairs to see what was supposed
to be the record library. I also met Tony Blackburn and
Simon Dee. At that time the DJs didn't put on their own
records. You had to learn the cueing systems and work
for each other. The production experience was
invaluable. I had a show in the middle of the day and
some horrible jazz show. I can't stand jazz but I was
told it was only for a short time to fill in before I
would be transferred to Caroline North. In those days I
used to follow Tony Blackburn and in the evenings I
helped Simon Dee to produce a special Winston Churchill
memorial show. He took a tremendous amount of time on
that. I learnt editing and tape work from Simon. He was
so hard working and dedicated - a real perfectionist.
system was two weeks on and one off. On my time off I
went to Manchester for personal tours. There were no
laws against pirates at the time. The next step came
when I reported to the Isle of Man. We went to Ramsay.
Going to the north boat was entirely opposite to the
south. There was a Force 8 gale going and the boat was
pitching up and down. We set out in a 25tf fishing boat
with a wheelhouse and nothing else. We all got soaking
wet. The trip out took 35 minutes. It was impossible to
judge the angle between the two boats or the height. One
minute Caroline North was 35ft from the water level. It
was a monster boat.
fishing boat was level with the water and this meant
that at no time did the fishing boat go level with the
Caroline deck. The captain of the tender tried to pull
up alongside but he didn't think we would make it. We
got within eight foot of Caroline and we were rising and
falling about 20ft and lurching about. The idea was that
two guys on the tender would throw you like a sack of
potatoes and two more on the Caroline would try and
catch you. You knew if they missed that would be the end
of you and you would be killed in the water. As the new
guy on board I had to be the first to make the fateful
plunge. We did a circle and came back again. On the
second pass there was about 4ft of water between us when
I jumped. I thought it was the end of the world!
they caught me and I was chucked aboard again like a
sack of potatoes onto the deck. The tender never managed
to get back again and had to go off carrying all my gear
remember Bob Stewart started on the same boat two weeks
after me. The studio was large and you did the
controlling yourself. It was a converted ferry boat that
had carried 200 passengers. We had a private cabin each
and a free ration of two beers a day and 20 cigarettes.
We got £30 a week so when you went off you went with £90.
I came off the boat I went to see Peter Noone. By this
time he had parted completely from the group. On
Caroline North we used to get a tremendous amount of fan
mail. I still have three suitcases full of stuff I never
answered. The tender came out twice a week and I made
occasional trips to London to pick up records. I met the
English representatives of Jan and Dean and the Beach
Boys. I was given an original set of Beach Boys records
and played them on the air non stop. The three artists I
played the most were those two and Bob Dylan. I had the
4-6 p.m show each day and we featured the West Coast
sound. People seemed to like it and the show became
Stewart was also very into American music and he played
lots of Tamla Motown. He introduced the American Hot 100
to an English audience for the first time.
one trip home I met Peter Noone and he told me about a
radio station in the States that was really looking for
an English DJ. I was very interested in this as I had
always wanted to work in the USA. The station was in
Winston Salem, North Carolina. I phoned them up from
Liverpool and they put me on the air there and then. I
accepted a job on the station and then had to get work
visas and in the end the only way to do that was to
was lucky in being a special commodity. It was difficult
getting visas unless you were going to do a job that an
American couldn't. Obviously an American couldn't be an
English DJ. I got cold feet at London before flying to
Washington. We flew to this airport out in the sticks
and there was an amazing incident. We seemed to have
landed in the middle of a field. There were no buildings
anywhere and suddenly this huge house on stilts
approached us. It was a kind of mobile passenger lounge
and we were served coffee as we went to the main airport
terminal. I was absolutely awe-struck, this really was
the United States.
had to transfer to National Airport and we had this
Mercedes to take us. National Airport was in the middle
of the town and like a coach station. We got one of
those bus stop planes and I had to climb into my seat as
the plane seemed to go up at the front. The steward was
massive. He came up and shouted in a broad American
accent "coke or milk." That was all they could
do as there was nothing in the way of heating. It took
us 40 minutes to get from Washington.
at Winston Salem Airport. The whole town was owned by
Reynolds Tobacco Company. The son of that firm was
completely mad. He had so much money that he just didn't
know what to do with it. For the first time in my life I
panicked. If nobody was there to meet me I realised I
really was on my own. I suddenly realised I didn't know
how to use a phone in this "strange country."
The whole airport was closing down and there was nobody
to meet me. I went to the phone because I had some
American money. I didn't know what to put in the phone
box. I looked up the name of the radio station but
didn't understand the ringing tones.
was then I remembered the jingles from Caroline on the
Hertz Rent a Car. I went there and told the girl in my
English accent that I didn't understand the telephone.
They seemed amused by my accent and all they could say
was "say that again". I eventually got through
and eventually somebody came to pick me up with a huge
broadcasting was a total disaster. I was asked to
broadcast to youngsters who had grown up with radio in
the States. They had already had everything I could
serve up. All my stuff was old hat, they knew it all.
Six or seven months later I was called into the boss'
office. My novelty value had well and truly worn off. I
didn't know anything about the town and I realised that
a DJ really had to have his hand on the pulse of the
town and know everything about it and its people. I was
competing against a local station and going on the air
at the same time as a guy that was born and bred in
Winston. I think I had about 20 listeners.
were about four or five local stations and we were no
competition. They were giving away tremendous prizes in
competitions and all we could give was a record here and
there. Rather like the BBC today. The station was
actually WAIR Winston Salem, North Carolina. They were
unhappy with me. I decided to look around for something
else. I had no idea what I was going to do but I knew
there was no future for me there.
radio had a banding system worked on the most important
areas. Area one would be the most important and so on.
We were in the 52nd market. Whilst I was on Caroline I
had been offered a job in Seattle. I turned that down
and later found it was a feeder market for Los Angeles,
which was the number one market!
I was put in touch with a DJ agent in LA. I went on the
air in Winston and while I was broadcasting this call
came from Phoenix, Arizona. It was a guy who was a west
coast hustler type. I said I could be in Phoenix the
following Monday, but he wanted me there on Saturday. I
had to borrow some money and went via New Orleans on a
Greyhound coach. The fair was 52 dollars and the bus was
full. It really is the lowest form of transportation
used by the people that don't drive. I slept nearly all
went through Georgia and New Orleans. New Orleans was
the filthiest place I had ever been through and I had
looked forward to going there. It really smelled. On the
way I met this guy who was an artist. A very strange
bloke. You asked him a question and about 150 miles
later he would give you an answer. Everything around the
New Orleans area seemed to be in total decay. The next
stop was El Paso. All the time we were there we heard
the Marty Robins record being played over and over
again. There was plenty of cowboys around.
there to Phoenix brought us the most amazing
countryside. The desert was impressive. We arrived in
Phoenix on Sunday morning and the town centre as totally
deserted. It really was a shanty town. Everybody had
moved out of the centre. There were only three buildings
in the centre and they were the court house, civic
centre and television station and the YMCA. I phoned up
the radio station and the bloke on the air didn't know
anything about my arrival. Nevertheless I went along to
temperature at this time was 102. At the station I had
to wait for him to let me in and he eventually asked me
to go back in the morning. He gave me some money and I
spent the night at the YMCA. By that time I was filthy,
fed up and frightened. The next morning I went back to
the station and was ushered into the manager's office.
He kept his back to me the entire time, staring out of
the window. He had white hair and to this day that is
all I know about him. He said: "I have some bad
news for you. We cannot employ you as you do not have a
said that there had been no problem about that in the
past as I thought you only had to have a licence to read
the meters. Eventually they decided that the only show I
could do under such circumstances would be the early
morning show. That suited me because it was the peak
was given this apartment by the station and they found a
mini car from somewhere. Being a mini it was not used to
the high temperatures and continually overheated in the
120 degrees. Nevertheless I got free hamburgers and
clothes and had the 6 until 10 a.m show. It was there
that I got to know this guy whose mother had a swimming
pool. At 10 a.m I was usually free all day and I would
spend the rest of the time lazing in the pool and
playing water polo etc. Every weekend we went into the
mountains. This was about 1966. At the time one of the
guys at the station had a TV programme. It was based on
cartoons for children but had a number of slots that
included satire and humour. It was a send up of the
political position and beamed to LA. I did a few
sketches on that show.
this time they opened up a new club in Stockdale,
Arizona, and they would get the most amazing groups such
as Lovin Spoonful and Them. At the time most of the
American groups were dreadful. One night we had the
Mindbenders on tour. Their manager had previously been
my agent while I was on Caroline. He was regarded in the
business as a first class pig and when I approached him
in the hall he walked straight past me. He was playing
the big manager of a pop group on tour game. At that
time Eric Stewart of 10CC was in the Mindbenders. I
worked three nights a week at the Fifth Estate Club and
that went on for 8-9 months. We used to go skiing in the
country had a tremendous contrast. I was a half hour
drive from the Grand Canypon but I made a grave mistake
of never going there. It was one of those things that as
it was on your doorstep you always promised to go there
the next week.
one occasion Herman's Hermits were touring in LA. I
travelled to see them. I met Peter at the airport and
there was a terrific re-union. They went off to the
Beverley Hills Hotel in Hollywood. As the drinking age
was 21 and Peter hadn't reached that I had to buy all
his beer for him.
Arizona I got stopped by the FBI. I went to the bar to
get some cans of beer, it was great stuff there. I came
out and felt this hand on my shoulder. I thought I was
going to be mugged. It was an FBI guy and he wanted my
ID. The police over there always acted as if they didn't
believe you on anything. He wanted to see my 21st
birthday card and I really didn't know what he wanted. I
said I didn't bring them with me and they were in
England. What he actually wanted was a card given to
everyone on their 21st birthday to say they are entitled
to purchase alcohol. Eventually he decided that I really
was English and the next day I had to go and get one of
LA Peter Noone was due to appear at the LA Baseball
stadium. It was an enclosed stadium and we went to the
concert in the evening by Wells Fargo stagecoach. I took
with me tapes and equipment to tape the show for my
radio programme. The stadium was awful. There were wire
and metal barriers erected to stop the kids going
forward. Police were smashing the fingers of anybody
that held onto the barriers and anybody standing up was
quite likely to be attacked by the police. In the middle
of the concert an 11 year old kid ran down the centre
aisle. He got to the front when the police jumped on
him, knocking him to the floor. Peter was really upset
by all this and stopped the concert. It terrified him
and after that he just disappeared for three days. He
had gone off for a rest with the Mamas and Papas. When I
got back to the station I never broadcast the tape.
long after this the station manager called us all in and
told us the station had been sold to a country music
outfit and we were all out of a job. I decided not to do
anything for a while and just lazed around in the sun.
that I was on the dole. I realised, however, just how
much money I had accumulated whilst on the station.
Whilst there I hardly spent anything as clothes and food
were mainly free. All my wages had been put into the
bank and I had never touched the money. I was amazed to
find I had $200,000. Quite a bit of that came from
"backhanders" from record companies for
playing their music. Payola was rife. A record company
would approach me and say that if I played their record
they would see me okay. I never thought anything about
this and all the time the money was going into my bank
account. I didn't bother to do anything for two months.
I went to LA but couldn't get onto their radio set-up.
Eventually I got a call from George Jay. He heard I was
out of work and offered me a job at Dayton, Ohio, which
was on Market 10.
a top record station in the States welcomes a new DJ
they really do it in style. They hold parties in the
street. At first I worked on the sister station at
Springfield, Ohio. I got a domestic flight to Chicago
and there I was met by a man, his wife and his enormous
daughter. He had a private plane. So the three of us and
this house got in. We had two runs down the runway but
couldn't get off the ground. Eventually we had to unload
the luggage and that had to follow us. During that trip
I took the controls of the plane and that was a
fantastic experience. We arrived in Springfield and it
really was a tiny place, a small farming community and a
little country radio station. They booked me into this
horrible hotel and the shower and walls were full of
green mould. I had been there three days when this
promoter approached me. His wife invited me to stay at
their house 15 miles away.
I got on WING, Dayton, Ohio. It was a fantastic radio
station with the studio facing onto the main street so
members of the public could come and watch you while you
were on the air. I loved that because I could play to
the public. I think I would still have been there if it
hadn't been for another chapter in the story concerning
night I received a telegram from a bloke telling me
about this group that were appearing at a local club I
was due to appear at. They wanted me to be their
manager. The next time I went on the air I was conscious
of four young faces and a tall man watching me. Unlike
most people who watch for a few minutes and then go on
their way, this group stayed for the entire show. At the
end the tall guy came up to me and said he was the
person that had cabled me. The kids of the group he had
talked about were 12-14. I said: "Why don't you go
away and come back when they are 18-19?" That upset
him and his reply was "We will show you."
the Saturday night I saw them at the club and they were
fantastic. They played stuff from Sergeant Pepper and
made it sound like the record. They were called the
Parfidians and the lead singer certainly hd more talent
and musical ability than Peter Noone. I was knocked out
but kept cool and told their manager I would like to
discuss the idea of managing them. So I went round to
their house to meet their parents and grand parents.
They were all brothers!
I introduced them to music they didn't know about. This
included stuff by the Hollies and they started singing
like a mixture of the Hollies and the Beatles. They
became well known in the area and started breaking in
the country as a whole.
got a record producer to come down and listen to them
and he was suitably impressed. By this time they were
taking up a lot of my time and the radio station was
dropping a bit and I let it go. I wasn't taking much
time or effort over my programmes and eventually I had
to decide between the group and the station. I felt I
had enough money to finance them and so gave all my
efforts to them.
went off the New York to record and were booked into the
YMCA. We were only there for a few minutes when one of
the boys was approached. I complained about this to the
record company and they booked us a suite at the Waldorf
Astoria. We went into the same studios where the Four
Seasons had made their records. It was a machine really.
They had their own set of musicians to lay down the
tracks. We cut a number of tracks and then went back to
Dayton. It had been the first time the kids had been
away from home and their parents met them at the
airport. They wanted the kids to quit and told me they
didn't think they were ready to lose their childhood
quite as quick.
was speechless. I just sat around for a week. It was
getting near Christmas at this time and I thought I
would try and take two of the brothers on a trip of
England as 1/ I wanted to see the reaction over here to
them 2/ It might be the only opportunity they would get
of travelling abroad and 3/ It would give the parents a
good chance to see what it was like without their kids.
Eventually the parents agreed and I came home.
circus clown once told me in the States that although I
felt I wanted to get back to England, if I ever did I
would soon want to return to America. That's exactly
what happened. Once back I hated it. Everything and
everyone was so drab and nothing seemed to work. I was
so depressed and glad to get back to the States.
went back to see the parents but they hadn't changed
their minds. At this time I was getting the kids bigger
and bigger bookings. The parents decided that was it and
the kids would stay at home. I tried to get them back
into the fold but it didn't work.
ended up with a nervous breakdown from that. Before
meeting the kids I was broadcasting on a number of
separate stations at the same time. That meant long
hours and long journeys between each. I was working
12-15 hours a day. It all built up and the crunch came
after I cam back from my holiday in England.
to this was the fact that in the meantime I had been
married to an American girl. I must admit it wasn't a
particularly big event in my life, it was just something
that happened. She drove a van for another group and we
used to spend some time together and getting married
seemed a good idea.
were married about a month when she was killed. She came
away from a club one afternoon. It was early evening
and, instead of crossing the carriageway in the usual
manner, she tried to cut a corner and turn right. There
wasn't much left of her or the van after it had been hit
by a 16-wheeler.
really put me in hospital with a mental breakdown. They
were convinced I was crazy. When I was collected by
ambulance from my room I was wearing English underwear
and not the American shorts. This made them think I was
kinky. Added to this I had some paste pots in my room
that I used for art work. Of course this made them think
I was glue sniffing!!
taken to a mental asylum and I was in there for three
months at a cost of $100 a day. I had numerous mental
tests and the rest of the people in there were
geriatrics. It was sending me crazy being there, knowing
that I wasn't mad but trying desperately to prove it. In
fact the more I tried to prove I was sane the more they
thought I was mad. In the end I got out simply because I
refused to pay their bills. I worked out that it had
been their idea to take me to this place so they could
pay. It seemed to work. They must have thought that
anybody that could talk about money must be fairly sane.
It didn't stop them trying to sue me fo the money for
next thing I knew I was wandering around Prestwich
Airport, back in England having been repatriated.
of the stewardesses from BEA gt me together at the
airport because I was in such a daze after the gradual
pile up of events. After that I was in a coma for nine
days. My Parents came to the airport to meet me and I
was convalescing in Manchester for a year. This was
about 1969 and I spent the time making lampshades. I had
a lot of things to work out but I still hoped to get
back into the music business. Eventually I got in touch
with the local radio station in Manchester and the BBC.
The answer I got was negative because they said I didn't
have any journalistic background. I did some voice tests
for the BBC as they were looking for an announcer. My
voice wasn't what they wanted, however.
little later Keith Hopwood got into contact. He was one
of Herman's Hermits. They had a lot of money and wanted
to start some kind of business. They wondered if I had
any ideas and then they wanted me to look after it. I
suggested making commercials and jingles. He put
together a package for Granada TV. Eighteen months later
they decided they didn't want them. We did the new type
of commercials introducing slides with voices over the
top. It was a new style of co-ordinating voice and music
and making short commercials of 15 seconds. We had a
constant set of musicians to play on these and we
composed the music for a children's puppet show. I
started auditioning musicians and singers for jingles
and was very impressed by one particular singer called
Christopher Neal. I signed him on a personal management
contract and got him into the West End production of
Hair. Within a week he was understudying for the lead
part and eventually he took the lead.
that he had been seen by two million people. We cut an
album and a single "Close to You", through
Mickey Most's record label. I put all my remaining money
into that album, but it didn't sell. Christopher later
joined Paul Nicholas and dropped me as manager. Now they
are writing a number of hits together.
this point I took over another young man - Keith Chegwin.
He wasn't so hot as a singer but had a tremendously
bubbly personality that was infectious. At first I
turned him down but later changed my mind. It was a
failure because I was short of money and the company
I split with Chegwin I was looking for work. I met this
chap who was handling the promotional and publicity side
of Sunderland FC as a kind of commercial manager.
Sunderland had just won the FA Cup and his job was to
get things free from various sources for the players. He
phoned me and asked if I was interested in helping. I
drove to Sunderland only to find all the players had
left and a message was left asking me to go up to
Scotland. I didn't feel like doing that and so returned
to London only to get a phone call asking me to fly to
Scotland. That I did and had a super time fishing and
main job was to fix up a free honeymoon for D (player is
named but name omitted) The Miami tourist board agreed
to pay for a trip to Disney World. This was kept a
secret from D. The commercial manager also seemed to
keep it from the papers and everyone else and forgot to
the event. I managed to get this huge Lion from Disney
World to come down to present the tickets to D and his
wife but it backfired slightly because the wife didn't
think much of being photographed in bed. Nevertheless
they went to Disneyland.
they left I was asked to pay the bill because this guy
left without settling up. It all ended up with me being
interviewed by the police and eventually I convinced
them that I didn't know anything about the payment. I
was still left, however, with a £500 hotel bill and I
had to borrow that from my father. That was another
reason I joined London Transport - to give me a chance
to pay him back.
it was at this point that I decided I would have to go
out to work. Ever since I had been at school I had been
fascinated by buses. I tried to join London Transport
and enjoyed a spell as a conductor. I decided to become
a driver and joined Eastern Counties at Lowestoft. I
then applied to drive with London Transport but failed
the test again.
this point photography started creeping into my life
again and I was submitting pictures for magazines. In
this connection I met a Dutch guy in a bar one night and
he asked me to go to Holland to take pictures of a hotel
chain. I spent six weeks in Amsterdam and only returned
home when my mother was taken ill. Because she was ill I
moved to Lowestoft again. I loved it by the sea and
during the summer worked for Eastern Counties. Then
followed a job with Nightingales of Beccles and so to
is the first time n my life I have never had any
particular ambition. I considered taking up teaching
because I love working with kids. I think that would
drive me crazy though. My main aim is to see a lot more
recognition in the Media for children's activities. I
don't think people really realise their potential and
just what they can do if they are pointed in the right
direction. A lot of the trouble surrounding young people
is because they are classed as kiddies and not talked to